City of Hope pioneered immunotherapy with groundbreaking work in bone marrow transplantation. Within our Beckman Research Institute, we also developed the genetic processes for rendering monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) more effective in fighting cancer, processes critical for making products such as Avastin, Erbitux, Herceptin and Rituxan. Poised to maximize our world-class expertise, the Department of Immuno-Oncology's focus is on six key areas:
- Radioimmunotherapy: using genetically engineered mAbs to carry radioactive isotopes directly to tumor cells. City of Hope pioneered radioimmunotherapy when researchers developed an antibody recognizing a marker on the surface of cancer cells and used it to target tumors.
- Cellular Immunotherapy: genetically reprogramming immune cells to seek out and destroy specific cancers. We were the first to conduct Food and Drug Adminstration-authorized clinical trials with genetically reprogrammed T cells for lymphoma, neuroblastoma and glioma.
- Molecular Immunotherapy: "designer" proteins that fuse two molecules — one that seeks out the tumor and another that triggers the immune system to attack it. CITI researchers were the first group to apply this technology to lymphoma treatment, with clinical trials beginning in 2006.
- Vaccine Immunotherapy: vaccines targeting the p53 protein that result in elimination of cancers by supercharging the body's immune system. CITI scientists are at the forefront of developing and testing new p53-targeted vaccines against breast, prostate, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
- Tumor Immunology: studying the mechanisms tumors use to evade the immune system. In one example at City of Hope, researchers hope to target Stat3, a powerful protein found in 60 percent of cancer cells. Stat3 not only has the ability to control cell growth — and as a result, tumor growth — but it also helps cancer cloak itself from immune cells and may even disable the immune system itself.
- Lymphoma (SPORE Grant): City of Hope has been awarded the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for translational research studies for Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The Lymphoma SPORE grant brings together a number of investigators across four projects, one of which investigates the use of radioimmunotherapy to specifically seek out and destroy malignant cells.